dial indicator showing good health Employees who are encouraged to go to the doctor for theirannual check-up are less likely to call in sick in or spend hoursin the waiting room of an urgent care center. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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From telemedicine to gym discounts to lunchtime exerciseclasses, more businesses are encouraging employees to take chargeof their own health. These benefits—paired with the $5,655employers pay on average towards employee's health insurance premiums each year—add up to abig investment on behalf of employee health.

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A big investment is expected for any business that wants torecruit and retain strong, capable, and loyal employees. One studyfound that 75 percent of employees are more likely to staywith their employer because of the benefits program. Businesses can make stridestowards building a successful company by encouraging theiremployees to be proactive about their health and wellness.

What's in it for the business?

Even though compensation packages are often structured aroundwhat will impress applicants and retain employees, that doesn'tmean they're the only ones who benefit. Encouraging employees to behealthy positively impacts the employer, too.

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Increase productivity A company's successrelies heavily on the strength of its workforce. When an employeeis sick, they are more likely to stay home or worse, come to work sick. Sick employees put theircolleagues at risk and produce less output. Employees who areencouraged to go to the doctor for their annual check-up orschedule other preventative care appointments are less likely tocall in sick in the future or spend hours in the waiting room of anurgent care center or emergency room. Time is money, and the morehealthy employees there are at work, the more profitable thebusiness.

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Drive employee engagement When an employeefeels empowered to take care of their health — whether they needphysical therapy to heal an injury or a mental health day to reducestress — it helps to reaffirm that their employer cares about them.It creates a sense of belief that health insurance isn't just a boxthat has to be checked for their employer, but a tangible benefitfor both sides. Not only does this increase engagement, but itdecreases employee turnover rate, saving costs on future recruitingand onboarding.

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Boost morale by reducing health care costs Whenan employer encourages their employees to take care of their healthwith wellness programs or preventative care, they are potentiallyreducing the money an employee spends down the road as well as timespent away from work. When one employee notices the impact thiscould have on cost, they'll likely spread the news across theoffice to their colleagues, boosting morale. People want to work inan environment where they feel safe and cared for.

How to encourage employees to be proactive

Health care transparency technology, a healthy workplace, andwellness benefits are all methods businesses can use to encourageemployees to be proactive about their health.

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Health care transparency Health caretransparency technology makes it easy for an employee to use theirbenefits. For example, health insurance companies and third-partysoftware companies have cost comparison and in-network doctorsearch tools that help employees make smart decisions. Employeescan see price information as well as procedure and qualitycomparisons that gauge performance and safety at each facility.

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Create a healthy environment Businesses caneasily create a healthy environment in the office. Employers canencourage employees to create workout groups after work or swap outsome unhealthy office snacks, like chips and soda, for healthyalternatives. Business owners can even designate a meditation roomfor some mid-day zen.

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Offer wellness benefits There are plenty oflow-cost health benefits that give your employees the support andfreedom they need to take care of their health. Fitness membershipdiscounts are a great way to support your employees in their healthgoals, without taking up company time. Telemedicine is gainingpopularity, too, because of its flexibility and convenience.Telemedicine makes it easy for employees to consult a doctor over aphone or video call, reducing the time spent commuting to thedoctor and sitting in the waiting room. Health savings accounts andflexible spending accounts help employees afford health services assoon as they are needed.

Healthy employees are good for business

Businesses have many expenses, but employee benefits can be asmuch of an asset as a cost. According to Gallup, engaged teams are21 percent more productive than teams with low engagement.Increasing overall productivity, driving employee engagement, andboosting morale through strategies like healthcare transparency andwellness benefits are all ways businesses can benefit byencouraging their employees to be proactive with their health.

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David Reid is founder and CEO of EaseCentral


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